“You take a dump into free space, and it just completely disappears.” – Alex Honnold
Alex Honnold (@alexhonnold, Facebook: /alexhonnold) is a professional adventure rock climber whose audacious free-solo (no ropes, no partner) ascents of America’s biggest cliffs have made him one of the most recognized and followed climbers in the world. Honnold is distinguished for his uncanny ability to control his fear while scaling cliffs of dizzying heights without a rope to protect him if he falls.
His most celebrated achievements include the first and only free-solo of the Moonlight Buttress (5.12d, 1,200 feet) in Zion National Park, Utah, and the Northwest Face (5.12a) of Half Dome (2,200 feet), in Yosemite, California.
In 2012, he achieved Yosemite’s first “Triple Solo”: climbing, in succession, the National Park’s three largest faces—Mt. Watkins, Half Dome and El Capitan—alone, and in under 24 hours.
He is also the founder of the Honnold Foundation, an environmental non-profit, and to this day, he maintains his simple “dirtbag-climber” existence, living out of his van and traveling the world in search of the next great vertical adventure.
If you want to laugh your ass off, listen to this hilarious 2-minute story from Alex.
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Interested in another conversation discussing death-defying climbing accomplishments? — Listen to my conversation with Jimmy Chin. In this episode, we learn from the athlete (and artist) who cheats death (stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: How do you assess risk? Does your process differ in business, athletics and other areas of life? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Connect with Alex Honnold:
- Learn more about Castle Rock State Park outside of Santa Cruz, CA
- In Sacramento, CA? Check out Mark Bell’s Super Training Gym
- Learn more about the Ram Promaster
- Learn more about Romantic Warrior
- Suggested climbing snacks: ZBar | Shot Bloks
- Learn more about Marc-Andre Leclerc – Facebook | Blog
- A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
- Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein
- Watch Meru
- Video (and more video) of Alex climbing
- The origin story of Alex Honnold [5:21]
- Describing different types of rock climbing [8:44]
- Why Alex Honnold was studying civil engineering [11:06]
- If you had to pick a fixed location to live for 5 years, where would it be? [13:25]
- On the ability to climb full-time or be a ‘dirt-bag climber’ [14:35]
- Thoughts on the climbing industry and its popularity [17:43]
- Self-talk for preparing for a challenging climb [20:41]
- Philosophy and the benefits of living simply [22:41]
- A funny “soloing” story [24:26]
- Eating habits [27:29]
- The most epic poop story – What happens when you have to take a shit on a big wall? [29:01]
- The surprising self-care that is available when free soloing [31:56]
- Alpinism and what it was like to be a beginner climber again [33:54]
- How does Alex Honnold’s climbing differ from Jimmy Chin’s? [35:51]
- Biggest climbing mentors [36:56]
- Important elements to becoming a good climber [37:36]
- The main ways to conserve energy when climbing [39:59]
- What do you worry about? [41:44]
- At what point do you stop working to make more money? [42:41]
- Do you get depressed? [47:16]
- Do you foresee a point in which you’ve accomplished all that you can in climbing? Is there always a “what’s next?” [48:47]
- Approaches to improving elbow health [51:16]
- Impressive climbers [52:40]
- Do you ever have concerns about your influence on young climbers? [55:05]
- On hitting the point where you decide to turn around and climb down [57:31]
- The real story about the Yosemite freak out moment [59:25]
- Best and worst jobs and deciding to stop attending Berkeley [1:02:44]
- Favorite books [1:07:02]
- On evaluating risk and managing fear [1:09:06]
- Music for traveling and climbing [1:14:11]
- When you think of the word successful, who is the first person who comes to mind and why? [1:19:16]
- What people do you find inspirational? [1:19:35]
- Food preparation and go-to dinners [1:22:26]
- Morning rituals [1:23:38]
- The lifestyle benefits of living in a van [1:24:23]
- What recent purchase had the most positive impact on your life? [1:28:52]
- Lessons learned from climbing [1:29:56]
- At what climbing grades have you plateaued the most? [1:33:05]
- If you could no longer climb, what would be your preferred physical activity? [1:35:42]
- What, outside of free-soloing, are you world-class at? [1:36:50]
- Advice to your younger self [1:38:03]
- How Alex Honnold keeps his training journal [1:39:34]
- What would you like your life to look like in 10 years? [1:41:23]
- Pee bottles and how to live without a bathroom [1:41:49]
- If you could have one billboard and place it anywhere, what would it say and where would it be? [1:43:28]
- What have you changed your mind about in recent history? [1:44:36]
- Chris Sharma
- Steph Davis
- Peter Croft
- Tommy Caldwell
- John Bacher
- Dean Potter
- Bradford Washburn
- Sébastien Foucan
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